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Toronto City Council Update – November 2015

Toronto City Council Update – November 2015


At its November 3 and 4, 2015 meeting, City Councillors debated a number of important issues.  These items included –


Poverty reduction strategy   

According to Statistics Canada, almost one in five adults, between the ages of 18 and 64, in Toronto and more than one-quarter of the City’s children, under the age of six, are living in low-income households.  Council adopted the vision, objectives, recommendations and actions for a poverty reduction strategy called TO Prosperity, with a work plan for 2016, that includes 75 City initiatives, many of them involving partnerships.


Cold weather protocol   

Council authorized funding to provide cold weather drop-in services, 24-hours-a-day, in Toronto, for January and February 2016.  In addition, Council directed that the City must be prepared to offer the 24-hour, cold weather drop-in services, if needed, in November and December 2015.  The City issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, with related services, when Environment Canada forecasts a temperature of -15 degrees C or colder or a wind chill of -20 degrees or colder.


Ban on use of hookahs     

Council approved prohibiting the use of hookahs/waterpipes in City-licensed establishments effective next April.  The prohibition follows Toronto Public Health’s confirmation of the need for a legislative approach to address the significant health risks associated with this alternative form of smoking.  Council also agreed to ask the Ontario government to enact legislation prohibiting the use of hookahs/waterpipes in restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments and patios.


In recognizing that smoking hookahs/waterpipes is an integral part of many cultures in our community and the need for regulations, I proposed that Council approve a Motion –


“That City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with the City Solicitor, to report to the January 22, 2016 meeting of the Licensing and Standards Committee on a by-law which would permit the following:


  1. the establishment of a new “hookah lounge” category in Chapter 545, Licensing of the Toronto Municipal Code and consider including the following regulations:
  2. only non-tobacco products are permitted;
  3. food or liquor not being permitted on the premises;

iii. only coffee, tea and juices are permitted on the premises; and

  1. minors (persons under the age of 19) are not permitted on the premises, with signage in a prominent location.
  2. an appropriate business licence fee for such an establishment.
  3. the establishment would be required to provide signage that states the harmful health effects of hookahs (waterpipes).”


The Motion did not pass.


Replacement of lead water service pipes

Council voted to direct Toronto Water to take steps to support the ongoing replacement of residential lead water-service pipes across the city.  Among the steps specified, staff were asked to approach local financial institutions about the feasibility of low-interest or easily accessible loans to homeowners for replacing the private-side pipes on their properties.  At present, about 1,500 residential property owners a year replace their private-side lead water service pipes with copper piping.  The replacements are done in conjunction with the City’s ongoing efforts to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water by replacing corroded lead water pipes.


Uber in Toronto  

Council adopted a Motion calling for the City to provide additional information to the public about the current status of Uber in Toronto, including the risks associated with using the UberX ride service.  The City is engaged in ongoing communications with representatives of Uber Canada about the City’s taxicab broker application process and Uber’s continued non-compliance with the Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Licensing.


Lane Designation – Sheppard Avenue East at Agincourt GO Station Access

City Council approved the following item from the Scarborough Community Council –


“City Council designate the northerly westbound lane on Sheppard Avenue East, between a point 51 metres east of Reidmount Avenue and a point 76 metres further east, for westbound right turns only, buses excepted.”


Motion MM10.4

At the November meeting of Toronto City Council, I introduced Motion MM10.4 recommending that:


“City Council request the City Manager, after consultation with City staff, the Canada Lands Company (CLC), owner and manager of the CN Tower and officials of the Department of Canadian Heritage, to report to the February 3 and 4, 2016 City Council meeting on the feasibility of the City of Toronto displaying its 2017 New Year’s fireworks from the CN Tower as well as Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary.”


The Motion was referred to the City of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee.


Future use of Old City Hall

Toronto’s Old City Hall has a rich history and the future of the Toronto landmark is of great concern and debate.  Council voted to notify the Province of Ontario that its lease of the Old City Hall building at 60 Queen Street West will not be extended/renewed beyond 2021.  Council also requested a feasibility study for museums and complementary public uses of the building, which currently houses provincial and municipal court operations.  Staff has identified criteria to be considered in determining the best future use and tenant fit for the historic building.